So you’ve decided you want to become vegetarian. You want to stop eating meat and fish but have no idea where to begin.
I first considered becoming vegetarian when I was 14 years old. I never really liked meat and would often go long periods of time without having any meat or eggs, and I felt better off for it.
I randomly told my parents one morning that I was vegetarian and would not eat meat with them. It took me a long time before I understood how challenging it could be. For about a year, I was not sure what to eat and would spend hours staring at nutritional info on food in the supermarket. I think I have got the hang of it by now, so here’s my top tips for becoming vegetarian, and staying that way!
Educate yourself. I feel like the first thing you need to figure out is why you want to become vegetarian.
Is it to better your health ? Is it because you care about animals ? Is it because you find the meat industry gross and disgusting ? These days, there are plenty of reasons why people choose to give up meat. I personally think that no matter the reason, it is a step forward to helping animals and the planet as a whole.
I do however ask that if you start doing it because you think it is trendy, that you actually take some time and read about it. It will definitely make more sense and the more you know, the less chance you’ll go back.
Be patient. It takes time. Not every one is able to change their diet instantly. You will make mistakes but think of the broader picture and the long term benefits you’ll get.
Go step by step. The one thing that worked for me, was to progressively get rid of the meat and fish in my diet. I got rid of red meat straight away because I never really liked it. However, it took me about a month to get rid of fish and over three months to stop eating chicken. Remember, it is a work in progress and no one expects you to be perfect. You will have a few relapses but it is okay.
Talk about it. Engage in conversation with other vegetarians and vegans. Take the intellectual approach and discuss it with your family. I think It is important that your friends and family be aware of it as well and help you.
For instance, my family has always been very understanding and by making vegan and vegetarian food at home, I have been able to show them that I was not lacking anything and that yes, vegetarian and vegan food can be awesome and delicious too!
Find vegetarian recipes of your favorite food. I love love love pizza and Mexican food. The first thing I did was learn how to make vegetarian pizza and veggie burritos and fajitas.
Take the time to look how far you have come. How do you feel ? Do you feel lighter ? Do you have more energy ? Has your relationship with meat changed ?
I remember looking back and I am now grossed out by meat after watching documentaries and reading on the subject. Appreciate the health benefits of giving up meat ! You can also keep a journal of what you eat and be proud of how good you’ve been doing and how long you’ve been helping our lovely planet.
If at this stage you still have some meat cravings, try faux meats and dairy free products. They now have pretty good and cheap vegan products in supermarkets like quorn chicken or sausages.
The protein and calcium debate. First question you will be asked.”But how are you going to get your calcium ? How are you going to get your protein ?”
Proteins are literally everywhere : Beans, lentils, broccoli, chickpeas, Tofu, Quinoa and the list goes on. Same for calcium, add to the list, kale, soy milk, almonds.
Do not crack under the pressure. Some people are going to disagree with you. Some people will pick on you for having a different diet. Some people will also say that you are not doing enough. Just keep an open mind and try to spark an intellectual debate. You are doing it for you and you want to stand by what you believe in.
Spread the word. Now it is time for you to educate others around you. There are tons of way to promote what you believe in and have a greater effect on people around you. Please do not get into the trend of fat or body shaming or shaming other lifestyle or diets to convince people. Talk about your experience, how it makes you feel and people will listen.
I have included below a list of documentaries to start your journey and show good reasons for becoming a veggie yourself.
I watch some videos on YouTube as well about vegetarianism and veganism. They all have different takes on vegetarianism and veganism. I personally draw the line with people trying to force their diet on me.